Periodical Staff Writing for External Audiences: University of Chicago - Bronze Medal

Category 26: Periodical Staff Writing for External Audiences
University of Chicago, University of Chicago Magazine

Contact: Mary Ruth Yoe, editor, 5801 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago, IL 60637, Phone: (773) 702-2164, e-mail:

Purpose/Objectives: In March 1907 The Chicago Alumni Magazine (Volume I, No. 1) appeared with some fanfare, including a statement of purpose that sprang from the University’s raison d’être:

The University of Chicago is not only an institution; it is a movement in itself. It represents not merely a gathering together of equipment and faculties, where one may spend a few years in study and then move on and away to other things. Its mission is the lifelong inspiration to effective service, stimulated by the innumerable associations inseparably connected with the “City Gray”—that intangible everything we call the University. The Magazine will find its largest expression as the organ of this undying movement. …

The MAGAZINE aims to record the daily life of the University, to give some expression to its literary activity and to serve as a medium through which the best thought and enthusiasm of us all may be so directed as to result in the greatest glory to our Alma Mater.

The MAGAZINE started life as a monthly periodical; a century later, the University of Chicago Magazine takes the form of a bimonthly magazine, supplemented by a Web site, monthly UCHICAGO.EDU e-bulletins, and a thrice-weekly Web log, UCHIBLOGO.

Like our predecessors, today’s editors work to inspire our readers to “effective service” by reinforcing the “intangible everything we call the University.” In each issue—as reflected by the five representative stories below—the Magazine’s staff works to convey key Chicago intangibles:

  • “Pipe Dream or Paradigm Shift” (February/06), by associate editor Lydialyle Gibson.

Chronicles medical researcher Raphael Lee’s discovery of a radical therapy for electrical burns and other traumatic injuries—and his 15-year struggle to gain support from an incredulous scientific community.

  • “Beyond Belief” (February/06), by managing editor Amy Braverman Puma.

Asks the question, What happens when the life of the mind meets intelligent design and other faith-based challenges to traditional undergraduate pedagogy? The magazine’s discussion drew an onslaught of letters, forcing the editor to call a hiatus on the topic six months later.

  • “Due South” (February/06), by associate editor Lydialyle Gibson.

Probes the University’s troubled relationship with the poverty-plagued neighborhood along its southern border. The story recounts a sometimes simmering, occasionally explosive controversy by folding some dozen voices—neighborhood residents and activists, local police and preachers, University administrators and students—into the narrative.

  • “Dos tortillas por día” (June/06), by alumni news editor Brooke E. O’Neill.

Profiles an alumna health researcher and her innovative approach to fighting health disparities in the Latino community on both the local and national level.

  • “Caretaker of Memory” (October/06), by managing editor Amy Braverman Puma.

Profiles the Chicago alumna who’s director of the World Trade Center Memorial and Museum—while analyzing the problems surrounding the museum’s creation and exploring more general questions of why and how such memorials and museums get built.

Audience(s): The magazine goes to alumni of the undergraduate college, the four graduate divisions (Biological Sciences, Humanities, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences), the six professional schools (Business, Divinity, Law, Medicine, Public Policy, and Social Service Admin¬istration), donors, other friends of the university, and parents of current undergraduates.

Circulation: 133,000

Frequency: Six times a year: February, April, June, August, October, and December. (During 2006, we gained a month on our publication schedule to be in sync with other members of the Ivy League Magazine Network: Jan–Feb, Mar–Apr, May–Jun, Jul–Aug, Sep–Oct, and Nov¬–Dec.)


  • Four full-time staff: editor, managing editor, associate editor, alumni news editor.
  • Freelance art director (designs features, covers).
  • Part-time Webmaster and part-time graphic designer (two weeks per issue); both are members of the development & alumni relations communications team.
  • Undergraduate interns (two, full-time, summer; one, 10 hours per week, academic year).
  • One student office assistant (15 hours per week).

Total annual budget (excluding salaries & postage): $544,643